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Retirement Accounts401(k) and 403(b) PlansIndividual Retirement Accounts (IRA)SEP and SIMPLE IRAsKeogh PlansMoney Purchase/Profit Sharing PlansSelf-Employed 401(k)s and 457sPension Plan RulesCash-Balance PlansThrift Savings Plans and 529 Plans and ESA
Personal FinancePersonal BankingPersonal DebtHome RelatedTax FormsSmall BusinessIncomeInvestmentsIRS Rules and PublicationsPersonal LifeMortgage
Corporate BasicsBasicsCorporate StructureCorporate FundamentalsCorporate DebtRisksEconomicsCorporate AccountingDividendsEarnings

What is Required Rate of Return?

Required Rate of Return is the return that investors will expect to earn on their money, given the risk and costs involved. Required Rate of Return is determined by the market for a particular security or asset at a given time. Issuers of fixed or variable coupon bonds must look at the rates offered by their peer institutions with similar credit ratings. Investors will require a certain rate of return if they are going to invest their money, and this is where the RRR gets its name. The calculations which help an issuer to arrive at the RRR will include the current risk-free rate (10 year treasury bond rate), liquidity, inflation, and so on. Continue reading...

What is Real Rate of Return?

Real rate of return is a notion that takes factors such as inflation and taxation into account before reporting a realized rate of interest on an investment. Economic theorist Irving Fisher first popularized the idea that there is a difference between a nominal interest rate and a real interest rate. Consider a bond that pays a steady coupon rate of 2% for the next 10 years. If inflation is more than 2%, the real rate of return on that investment is negative. If the investor got taxed on the nominal gains, the real rate of return is pushed further into negative territory. Continue reading...

What is the ‘Risk-Free Rate of Return’?

The risk-free rate of return is the rate an investor can get on a risk-free asset at a given time. It is usually the current yield on a 10-year treasury, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government and is considered risk-free. The risk-free rate is used in several calculations and considerations in finance, to show what return can be earned in the current market environment without being exposed to any risk. Continue reading...

What is the “Riskless” (or Risk-Free) Rate of Return?

What is the “Riskless” (or Risk-Free) Rate of Return?

For comparisons of the risk/return ratio of an investment, one must start with a benchmark of a risk-free rate of return in the current market. Since U.S. Treasury bills are backed by the full faith, credit, and taxing power of the U.S. Government, they are considered “riskless,” or as close to riskless as we can get. The current yield on a 10-year Treasury note is generally considered the risk-free rate of return. Continue reading...

How Do I Allocate My Assets in Retirement?

How Do I Allocate My Assets in Retirement?

How you allocate your assets in retirement depends on your goals and objectives for the assets, and the amount of growth you need to reach them. Your asset allocation also depends on your age and risk tolerance, all of which need to be factored-in each year when allocating your portfolio. The very first step in deciding an asset allocation is to determine your total level of liquid assets, what your desired level of growth and/or income is over long stretches of time, and your tolerance for risk/volatility. Most investors need more growth over time than they think, and often times it results in investors under-allocating to stocks or other risk assets. Continue reading...

What if I Want to Retire Abroad?

What if I Want to Retire Abroad?

Retiring abroad requires additional planning to account for visa requirements and currency exchange factors, but like any financial goal it can be reached with proper planning. Retiring in the U.S. is difficult on its own, given rapidly rising cost of health care and the fact that most Americans under-save. Retiring abroad, while possible, makes matters even more difficult. Amongst other factors to consider, a retiree needs to plan for a myriad of additional costs such as tax implications, currency fluctuations, visa requirements, and health care. Continue reading...

What is a Fixed Annuity?

What is a Fixed Annuity?

Fixed annuities, generally speaking, are annuity products that give the purchaser of the annuity the guarantee of fixed income payments for life. Annuities must come with the option to be paid out in equal payments either over a certain number of years or the lifetime(s) of the annuitant(s). This is the case for variable and fixed annuities, and these payments will be fixed and guaranteed. Where they differ is how they are invested before any annuitization takes place. Continue reading...

How are My Retirement Benefits Computed?

How are My Retirement Benefits Computed?

Each Defined Benefit Plan has its own formula and therefore its own calculations. These formulas need to be arranged by an enrolled actuary to insure that they’ll work over time and will hold up to IRS scrutiny. In general, however, the calculations are strongly based on factors such as your age, your salary, and the number of years you have spent working for the company. For every bit of salary you collect, or length of time you add to your tenure, you add incremental amounts to the set benefit waiting for you in retirement. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS)?

What is the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS)?

The FERS includes the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and other benefits available to employees of the federal government. The eligible features of FERS may be different for the employees of different branches and agencies of the government. Civilian and military personnel are included in FERS. FERS is essentially comprised of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which is a 401(k)-type plan for federal employees, and, in most cases, a Federal employee retirement annuity. The Thrift Savings plan has lower fees than most 401(k)s and offers several kinds of index funds to employees. Continue reading...

How Much Should I Withdraw from my Retirement Accounts Once I Retire?

How Much Should I Withdraw from my Retirement Accounts Once I Retire?

A general rule-of-thumb is to withdraw no more than 4% of your retirement savings per year. Since your retirement money has to last you for the rest of your life (and in most cases, your spouse’s), it’s extremely important to carefully calculate how much you can withdraw each year without risking running out of money. Retirees should avoid withdrawing more than 4% of your total retirement assets in any given year, and that’s assuming that your assets are invested for growth over time (with some equity exposure). Continue reading...

Where do I Get Started in Saving for Retirement?

Your employer is usually the best place to start, but you can also open your own retirement account (an IRA or Roth IRA, for instance) at your bank or a major custodian (like Charles Schwab or Fidelity). In some cases, there are income limits for contributing to a retirement account, which a financial advisor can discuss with you. A smart idea is to set up an automatic contribution to your retirement account, such as 10% of your monthly income. That way you’re automatically saving, and saving regularly. Continue reading...

What is Total Return?

Total Return is the measure of all appreciation and interest as well as dividends and other distributions from an investment. Often computations of return will only consider appreciation, and it can be an easy mistake to make when looking at performance data at times. When a stock pays significant and consistent dividends, it needs to be factored in to the computation of total return. This adds a significant compounding effect to the investment’s overall performance, but if you just looked at the sheets that said it had a 4% return and a 2% dividend yield, you would be missing the most important part. Total return can be calculated for different kinds of investments or an entire portfolio, and is often done on an annual basis once all distributions have been made. Continue reading...

What is Return on Sales?

Also called net operating margin, return on sales can indicate how well a company makes use of its sales revenue. By dividing Operating Profit by Net Sales, we can arrive at the Return on Sales. Essentially what we’ve done is broken down profits on a per sales basis. We can see what percentage of sales ends up as profit, or, on the other side of the coin, how much profit is generated per unit of sales. This can be useful for a comparison of companies of different sizes, because it excludes their assets, capital structures, taxes, and interest. Continue reading...

What Role Does Inflation Play in my Retirement Planning?

What Role Does Inflation Play in my Retirement Planning?

Inflation plays a crucial role in your retirement planning. Investors should anticipate 2% - 3% inflation each year, meaning that the costs of goods and services rise substantially over time. Retirees should also consider that inflation is different for different items. For instance, health care has a higher rate of inflation each year than retail goods, and the cost of home improvements generally rises faster than the cost of food. Continue reading...

How Does a 401(k) Compare With Other Retirement Plans?

There are several types of retirement plans that employers can provide, but 401(k)s are one of the most popular. Other employer-sponsored retirement plans include SIMPLEs, SEPs, and various kinds of defined benefit plans. SIMPLE IRAs are sometimes called SIMPLE 401(k)s, because they operate under the same laws as Safe Harbor 401(k)s. They both are primarily employee-funded, and have rigid standards for employer contributions. Continue reading...

What if I Need the Money in My IRA Before Retirement?

It is possible to withdraw money from an Individual Retirement Account without incurring a penalty, but it should be used as a last resort. If you withdraw the money before age 59½, you will pay both a 10% penalty and regular income taxes on the amount you withdraw from a Traditional IRA. However, there are special circumstances that allow you to make withdrawals without being charged the 10% penalty. These circumstances might include: paying for college expenses (whether for you, your grandchildren, etc.), paying for costs associated with a disability, medical expenses (must be greater than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income), and first-time home purchase. Continue reading...

What is the Difference Between Cash-Balance Plans and Other Retirement Plans?

What is the Difference Between Cash-Balance Plans and Other Retirement Plans?

Cash Balance plans are Defined Benefit plans, but are not much like Pensions as you may know them, or other types of retirement plans, for that matter. On one side of the retirement isle you have defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s and SEPs and so on, where the contributions are certain, or at least ascertainable, while the ending balance or benefit of each employee’s account is unknown, or at least does not have to be (and in most cases isn’t). Continue reading...

What is the Difference Between a Thrift Savings Plan and Other Retirement Plans?

What is the Difference Between a Thrift Savings Plan and Other Retirement Plans?

The main difference is that the TSP is only for Federal employees. A Thrift Savings Plan is essentially a 401(k) for employees of the federal government. It functions in the same ways and is subject to the same limitations. The contribution limits and catch-up limits are the same, as well as the employer contribution limit. The plan actually has lower fees than most 401(k)s, so that’s one difference. The investment options are fairly limited, but not much more than regular 401(k)s. There are basically 5 index funds to choose from and then a series of target-date funds that blend the index funds. Continue reading...

How do my IRA Withdrawals Get Taxed During Retirement?

Different IRAs have different tax treatments. Traditional IRAs, as well as SEPs, SIMPLEs, and 401(k)s are all taxed as income in retirement. Roth IRAs are not taxed. Traditional IRAs and the other pretax accounts will have distributions that are also includable in the Modified Adjusted Gross Income calculations which may subject them to 3.8% Medicare surtax, as well as the income calculations which determine what portion of Social Security income may be taxable in retirement. Continue reading...

What is Return on Equity?

Return on Equity refers to the return on shareholder’s equity, which is like looking at the compounding effects of profits. Shareholder’s equity, in the standard accounting equation, is the amount of assets and retained earnings in a company over and above the company’s liabilities. Return on Equity is a ratio which divides the net income of a company by the total shareholder’s equity in a company, which is effectively looking at the profitability of the profits of a company. Continue reading...